US federal government aims to avoid shutdown
An impending government shutdown over the holidays has forced the US government into action. Next week, the House plans to vote on a plan devised by Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen. The plan would place federal agencies on a continuing resolution through Jan. 19, 2018.
On Thursday, Dec. 7, the House passed a bill in the hopes that it would avert a possible government shutdown over the weekend. The measure passed after a 235-193 vote. The next day, President Donald Trump signed a spending bill to keep the government running for another two weeks, up to Friday, Dec. 22. The bill authorized over $700 billion in defense spending for the rest of the 2018 fiscal year, however it only bought some time for the government. Now, the House and Senate must either vote on another stopgag continuing resolution that would last until Jan. 19, 2018, or approve a new spending plan. The hope is that the government can buy enough time to come up with a comprehensive fiscal plan by Friday, Dec. 22. The question on many Americans’ mind is whether or not the government will be able to create an adequate plan to prevent the possible government shutdown.
Since the possibility of a holiday government shutdown has emerged, federal agencies have started preparing in the event of a shutdown. According to the Federal News Radio, less than 12 percent of the 572 federal employees who responded believe that a government shutdown will happen, and will last for less than a week. 15 percent of the respondents believed that the potential shutdown would last longer than a week. “My agency is as prepared as possible,” one respondent said.
At this point, the threat of a government shutdown doesn’t seem immediate. However, as Dec. 22, the deadline for a fiscal plan is approaching. On top of the looming deadline is the obstacle of getting both Democrats and Republicans in the House to agree on a plan. Along with government funding through Jan. 19, 2018, the bill would provide military funding through Sep. 30, 2018. The problem with the proposition of such a bill is that it does not include any of the Democrats’ top priorities; addressing the status of undocumented immigrants born as children within the U.S, funding to subsidize insurance premiums created under the Affordable Care Act, funding to combat the opioid epidemic, or increasing spending for non defense agencies. For an effective bill to be passed quickly, there needs to be cooperation between the Republicans and Democrats- something that may not be possible for now.
Whether or not an effective resolution can be passed by the deadline of December 22 remains to be seen. What is known is that many federal agencies are already in preparation for a possible government shutdown. If not determined by bipartisanship between the Republicans and Democrats, then the fate of the bill will be determined by the Republicans’ effort, in conjunction with their power within the House and Senate.